We've had this discussion before.
(FYI: lists don't embed)
That said, vomiting forth a million links and leaving context to the user is rude, so I'll try and be concise. I will undoubtedly fail.
THE TWO DIMENSIONS OF HUBSKI
Hubski is unique amongst news aggregators in that it is a two-axis community.
- Sociability (X Axis): Content dissemination and ranking via user affinity. Example: You find a post about a subject you'd never care about otherwise because you follow me.
- Discoverability (Y Axis): Content dissemination and ranking via subject affinity. Example: You find a user you'd like to follow that you would never have found if you weren't both interested in #architecture.
Team Hubski promotes the X-axis and deprecates the Y-axis at every opportunity. Team Hubski has admitted they were wrong to eliminate tags (the only accommodation on Hubski for the Y-axis), but every Hubski update regarding the Y-axis is an attempt to make y a dependent variable of x.
There are many problems with this, not just the one tacocat pointed out. However, it's a useful exemplar:
1) lil shared a NYT article that she found interesting. She searched #nytimes.com and found nothing (search problem) so she posted it, and tagged it #deathpenalty (tag problem).
2) kingmudsy pointed out that he'd shared the exact same article three days previously, but had tagged it #uspolitics and #nebraska (tag problem). He then asked if he'd done something wrong, why wasn't it being shared.
3) Discussion is had about how maybe this tag, maybe that tag, maybe we need a "super follow", maybe following is broken - in other words, how can the X-axis be augmented to overcome the total deprecation of the Y-axis?
Search is hard. Follow is easy. Associating with people you find interesting is human nature. But finding friends through discovery is, too. In real life, you go to church or the pub or the links or the hoe-down because there are people who largely think and act like you do. In real life, you take cooking classes or go to the baseball game or an SCA convention because you like cooking or baseball or LARPing and will either enjoy or eschew that activity depending on the people you find there.
If people put continuing ed catalogs together the way Hubski uses tags no one would ever find ANYTHING.
Every social network developed on the Internet is a network first and social last. Nobody who has coded one of these things has the first clue about social engineering. This is why Twitter is the world's most efficient hate machine, why Reddit is a brigade engine first and foremost and why Facebook functions entirely to concentrate the trivialities of people you would have long since otherwise lost contact with.
Hubski is different.
Right off the bat, y'all figured out that there needed to be some social affinity in the way sharing worked. This was insightful to the point of revolutionary: people experience differing opinions and polite disagreement in real life with their friends. With people they know. With people they have a social obligation to be polite to. I have to be polite to a friend of my friend, even if he's a blithering idiot. There's no such requirement on Twitter, Tumblr, Hacker News, Reddit, Yick Yack, any of them. That force of politeness is friction and it's a good thing.
Reddit is a virtually frictionless place. This is why one community can feel A-OK about SWATting another - Reddit is a super-effective engine for gamifying public shaming. Any of the drive-by communities that depend on total or conditional anonymity function the same way - if you're just another car in the traffic jam of the Internet, I can call you a shitstain at the top of my lungs and feel not at all bad. Hubski ain't like that, and it's a good thing.
When I look at "active posters", two of the top 20 have lines through them. I mute and ignore minimum_wage and theadvancedapes; they do the same to me. We have mutually demonstrated an inability to be civil to each other and these choices keep us out of each others' grilles. I would imagine that a vast swath of Hubski follows all three of us, however, and the system allows everyone to enjoy our content without having to watch us carve into each other like a scene out of an Erroll Flynn movie.
Social works. The X-axis is robust. Don't fix it, don't break it, don't worry about it, don't mess with it.
What DOESN'T WORK is the Y-axis: the ability to find things independent of who shared them.
- Search is useless.
- Tags are a joke ( Literally a joke - a system that allows "ironic tagging" and has no mechanism to preserve taxonomy is a system destined for anarchy and nihilism).
- URLs have no similarity comparisions - any &utm=bullshit appended to the end of a link will make Hubski decide it's fresh and shiny new.
- There is no taxonomy for subjects.
- There is no discoverability for subjects.
Beating the dead horse:
Reddit has the problems it has because there is no mechanism to defend Redditors from each other. Hubski will never have those problems because Hubski protects personal relationships first and foremost. Hubski's problem is that once it gets big enough, nobody will be able to find anything they didn't discover socially because tags just as useless now as they were when Hubski launched.
I've been saying this for four years now. Are we finally to the point where Team Hubski acknowledges that search and taxonomy need to be built out in order to support future growth?